Stage 11 was another quiet day on le Tour, which gave me a chance to focus on the issues that really get cycling fans talking. Namely, the TV coverage, and the inherent comedy to be found within it.
Here in the UK, you may find yourself watching the excellent highlights on ITV, featuring the blossoming double act between Chris Boardman and Ned Boulting.
One, a former wearer of the Yellow Jersey, Olympic champion, and Hour Record holder, and the other an affable TV personality with a surprising gift for physical comedy.
One of the regular segments is Chris Boardman’s EnCYCLEpedia, where he, with Ned as his sidekick, explains the nuances of all things bike.
He does this resplendent in vintage cycle kit.
Now, me and my wife often sit and watch the ITV highlights together of an evening. For the first three or four episodes of the EnCYCLEpedia I noticed she was strangely quiet.
Pensive, even. As if contemplating a terrible thought.
Was she considering a leap to the dark side? Could she be about to throw her vocal support behind Fabio Aru as the challenger to Chris Froome’s juggernaut-ical progress?
(What? Juggernaut-ical. Can you think of a better word?)
It was a worrying time for me.
In my house, Roman Bardet has long been the acceptable challenger to Froome’s crown.
Thankfully, the explanation for her uncharacteristic silence emerged during the Stage 10 highlights show, with the immortal question:
“Is Chris Boardman advertising erotica?”
Some of you may have heard of the Eroica Brittania. It’s a vintage bike ride where (mainly) men dress up in old kit and ride old bikes and talk about Coppi, Merckx, Merino wool and lugging.
There’s quite a big difference between Eroica and Erotica.
ITV presumably filmed the Boardman/Boulting segments at the event, judging by the ‘Eroica Brittania’ emblazoned across the chests of their woollen jerseys.
So I explained to my wife: “Yes, he’s advertising erotica. But British erotica, the industry is really struggling at the moment – something to do with Brexit I think. Bless ‘im, he’s a good egg isn’t he?”
She went quiet again.
She’s clearly never seen Chris Boardman as the natural figurehead of British erotica.Embed from Getty Images
As for the actual cycling on Stage 11, it was largely similar to the actual cycling on Stage 10; break goes clear, peloton leave them hanging all day, peloton speed up and catch them, Marcel Kittel wins the sprint.
I’ve run out of ways to describe that.